Thursday, May 30, 2013

Your friend is newly diagnosed - here is what (not) to say

If you have talked with me in the past two months I have probably discussed or pushed you to read this article. It has some many applications and it is a great example of clear, concise writing. I love it for so many reasons!

Just go read it, it will take you 5 minutes and it is way better than any summation I might try to make.

See why I love it?! Comfort IN, dump OUT.

It is so incredibly simple, but so easy to forget. 

If you have a friend or loved one who is recently diagnosed with celiac disease, or anything else for that matter, you don't get to complain to you friend. It is that simple. And trust me, you do need to get to complain, and vent, and be comforted, but not by the person in the middle of the circle. Just remember as hard as it is for you to learn all of these new rules about where gluten can hide, how to rearrange your life (because you are a fucking amazing and supportive human who isn't going to ostracize your loved one from social interactions or make their lives even harder right now, cause you are reading this and you are a decent human being), it is still a lot harder for your friend. Way harder, TONS HARDER. Because at the end of the day, you can make a mistake and not be violent sick for making a mistake and you get to take a breather from reorganizing your kitchen, your brain, and your life - your friend doesn't. So don't complain to your friend, but for your sanity find someone to help you through this.

Being a newbie to anything is hard, but going gluten free is still a giant pain in the ass. There are no federal guidelines that define what gluten free is (or isn't), mainstream media thinks it is still ok to act like the medically required need to avoid eating all gluten is some kind of joke or fad, and it is incredibly difficult to not get glutened at a restaurant. These are some of the factors that contribute to to hire rates of eating disorders and depression for those with celiac disease.

While I am in the doling out advice mood, here are some other suggestions:
-avoid the phrase "oh this is soooo good, shame you can't have any" (this is cruel)
-never say "just try a little" (gluten is poison to celiacs, small amounts are never ok)
-if you invite someone to share a meal with you try to do a little leg work to make them feel welcome and safe...
-but understand that s/he is going to need to ask a lot of questions to feel remotely safe and it is not questioning your commitment, is is their need to feel like they aren't going to digestive-ly and mentally set back again for a few weeks

Most of all, thank you for being not a jerk to someone who just got handed a giant mental and physical challenge.

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